Isaiah 10:4
Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.
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(4) Without me they shall bow down . . .—The Hebrew text is obscure, but these words were probably intended as the answer to the taunting question that had preceded them. Dropping the direct address, and passing to the third person, the prophet seems to say as with a kind of ominous “aside,” “No, there is no ally, no hiding-place but this, except they bow down among the captives or fall among the slain.” Exile or death, that was their only alternative. When that sentence has been uttered, the doom-bell, as we have called it, “For all this . . .” tolls once more. If we adopt the Authorised version we have the same fact asserted, with the suggested thought that there was a refuge to be found in God.

10:1-4 These verses are to be joined with the foregoing chapter. Woe to the superior powers that devise and decree unrighteous decrees! And woe to the inferior officers that draw them up, and enter them on record! But what will sinners do? Whither will they flee?Without me - בלתי biltı̂y. There has been a great variety of interpretation affixed to this expression. The sense in which our translators understood it was, evidently, that they should be forsaken of God; and that, as the effect of this, they should bow down under the condition of captives, or among the slain. The Vulgate and the Septuagint, however. and many interpreters understand the word bore as a simple negative. 'Where will you flee for refuge? Where will you deposit your wealth so as not to bow down under a chain?' Vulgate, Ne incurvemini sub vinculo. Septuagint, Τοῦ μὴ ἐμπεσεῖν εἰς ἀπαγωνήν tou mē empesein eis apagōnēn - 'Not to fall into captivity.' The Hebrew will bear either mode of construction. Vitringa and Lowth understand it as our translators have done, as meaning that God would forsake them, and that without him, that is, deprived of his aid, they would be destroyed.

They shall bow down - They shall be subdued, as armies are that are taken captive.

Under the prisoners - That is, under the "condition" of prisoners; or as prisoner. Some understand it to mean, that they should bear down "in the place of prisoners;" that is, in prison, But it evidently means, simply, that they should be captives.

They shall fall under the slain - They shall be slain. Gesenius renders it, "'Among the prisoners, and "among" the slain.'" The Chaldee reads it, 'You shall be east into chains out of your own land, and beyond your own cities you shall be cast out slain.' Vitringa supposes that the prophet, in this verse, refers to the custom, among the ancients, of placing prisoners in war under a yoke of wood to indicate their captivity. That such a custom obtained, there can be no doubt; but it is not probable that Isaiah refers to it here. The simple idea is, that many of them should be taken captive, and many of them slain. This prediction was fulfilled in the invasion of Tiglath-pileser; 2 Kings 15; 16.

For all this - Notwithstanding these calamities. The cup of punishment is not filled by these, but the divine judgment shall still be poured out further upon the nation. The anger of God shall not be fully expressed by these minor inflictions of his wrath, but his hand shall continue to be stretched out until the whole nation shall be overwhelmed and ruined; see the note at Isaiah 10:12.

4. Without me—not having Me to "flee to" (Isa 10:3).

bow down—Bereft of strength they shall fall; or else, they shall lie down fettered.

under … under—rather, "among" (literally, "in the place of") [Horsley]. The "under" may be, however, explained, "trodden under the (feet of the) prisoners going into captivity," and "overwhelmed under the heaps of slain on the battlefield" [Maurer].

Without me they shall bow down: the words thus translated seem to contain an answer to the foregoing questions: In vain do you seek for a refuge and help from others; for without me, without my favour and help which you have forfeited, and do not seek to recover, and which I shall withdraw from you, or because you are without me, or forsaken by me,

you shall bow down, notwithstanding all your succours. In the Hebrew here is a change of the person and number, which is very usual in prophetical writings. The LXX., and some others, join these words to the foregoing verse, and translate them thus, that you may not bow down: so the sense of the place is, What will you do to prevent your captivity or slaughter? And it is true, that the first word is elsewhere taken for a negative particle. But the former translation seems more genuine.

Under the prisoners; or rather, in the place (as this particle signifies, and is rendered by interpreters, Genesis 30:2 50:19 Exodus 16:29 Joshua 5:8, and elsewhere) of the prisoners, or among the prisoners; and so in the next clause, among or in the place of the slain.

Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain,.... That is, either, being forsaken by me, and destitute of my help, they shall bow down; or, "because they are without me", are not my people, and do not hearken to me, therefore they shall bow down, so David Kimchi; or, were it not for me, they would, as others; or that they might not bow down and fall; and so the words may be connected with the preceding verse Isaiah 10:3, others render the word, translated "without me, besides"; and the sense is either, as Moses Kimchi, besides their bowing in their own land, when subdued by the Gentiles, a greater affliction shall befall them, captivity; when they should be either carried captive or slain; or besides him that shall bow down under the prisoners, they shall fall under the slain; besides those that are taken, others shall be killed; or none shall escape, but, or "except", him that bows, and hides himself under the prisoners, or in the place of the slain, that he might not be thought to be alive: or the sense is, the desolation shall be so general, that none shall escape, either they shall be taken prisoners, or they shall be slain; agreeably to which Noldius (i) renders the words, "without me", everyone "shall bow down among the prisoners, or shall fall among the slain"; which gives the best sense of them; that, being left of God for their sins, they would either be bound and carried captive, or else slain with the sword, and one or the other would be the lot of everyone of them:

for all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still; the final and utter destruction of the nation of the Jews being then not yet come, when carried captive to Babylon, there remained a greater calamity for them, to come by the hands of the Romans. These first four verses Isaiah 10:1 seem more properly to belong to the preceding chapter Isaiah 9:1, and this should begin with the next verse Isaiah 10:5.

(i) Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 201, 771.

{d} Without me they shall bow down under the prisoners, and they shall fall under the slain. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.

(d) Because they have forsaken me, some will go into captivity and the rest will be slain.

4. Without me … slain] This clause is very difficult. The easiest explanation perhaps is to take it as the answer to the questions of Isaiah 10:3 : (they can do nothing) except crouch under the captives and fall under the slain. Another is “Except one (here and there) crouch among captives, they must fell under the slain.” Objections to both occur readily enough to anyone who reads the Hebrew, especially the abrupt changes from singular to plural. An ingenious conjecture of Lagarde’s gives the sense “Beltis crouches, Osiris is broken (חַת אֹסִיר כֵּלְתִּי כֹּרַעַת cf. Isaiah 46:1; Jeremiah 50:2), they fall, &c.”; i.e. the heathen gods shall be unable to give protection to their votaries. But there is no evidence that Egyptian deities (Osiris) were worshipped in Israel in Isaiah’s time; and in any case their sudden introduction here would be surprising.

his hand is stretched out still] See on ch. Isaiah 5:25 ff.

Verse 4. - Without me. That this is a possible rendering of the word used seems proved by Hosea 13:4. But here it scarcely suits the context. God does not speak directly, in the first person, elsewhere in the entire prophecy (Isaiah 9:8-10:4), but is spoken of in the third person throughout, as even in the present verse, where we have "his anger," "his hand." It is better, therefore, to give the word its ordinary meaning - "unless," "except." Have they anywhere to flee to, unless they shall crouch amid the captives that are being carried off, or fall amid the slain? In other words, there is no escape for them; they must either submit to captivity or death. For all this, etc. Even when the two kingdoms were destroyed, and the captivity of both was complete, God's wrath was not fully appeased, his anger was not wholly turned away. Both peoples suffered grievous things in their captivity, as appears from the Book of Daniel (Isaiah 3, 6.) and other places. It took seventy years for God's anger to be appeased in the case of Judah (2 Chronicles 36:21), while in the case of Israel it was never appeased. Crushed beneath the iron heel of their conquerors, Israel ceased to exist as a nation. SECTION V. PROPHECIES OF WOE UPON FOREIGN NATIONS (Isaiah 10:5-23) Isaiah 10:4Strophe 4. "Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and to the writers who prepare trouble to force away the needy from demanding justice, and to rob the suffering of my people of their rightful claims, that widows may become their prey, and they plunder orphans! And what will ye do in the day of visitation, and in the storm that cometh from afar? To whom will ye flee for help? and where will ye deposit your glory? There is nothing left but to bow down under prisoners, and they fall under the slain. With all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still." This last strophe is directed against the unjust authorities and judges. The woe pronounced upon them is, as we have already frequently seen, Isaiah's Ceterum censeo. Châkak is their decisive decree (not, however, in a denominative sense, but in the primary sense of hewing in, recording in official documents, Isaiah 30:8; Job 19:23); and Cittēb (piel only occurring here, and a perfect, according to Gesenius, 126, 3) their official signing and writing. Their decrees are Chikekē 'aven (an open plural, as in Judges 5:15, for Chukkē, after the analogy of גללי, עממי, with an absolute Chăkâkim underlying it: Ewald, 186-7), inasmuch as their contents were worthlessness, i.e., the direct opposite of morality; and what they wrote out was ‛âmâl, trouble, i.e., an unjust oppression of the people (compare πόνος and πονηρός).

(Note: The current accentuation, ומכתבים mercha, עמל tiphchah, is wrong. The true accentuation would be the former with tiphchah (and metheg), the latter with mercha; for ‛âmâl cittēbu is an attributive (an elliptical relative) clause. According to its etymon, ‛âmâl seems to stand by the side of μῶλος, moles, molestus (see Pott in Kuhn's Zeitschrift, ix. 202); but within the Semitic itself it stands by the side of אמל, to fade, marcescere, which coincides with the Sanscrit root mlâ and its cognates (see Leo Meyer, Vergleichende Grammatik, i. 353), so that ‛âmâl is, strictly speaking, to wear out or tire out (vulg. to worry).)

Poor persons who wanted to commence legal proceedings were not even allowed to do so, and possessions to which widows and orphans had a well-founded claim were a welcome booty to them (for the diversion into the finite verb, see Isaiah 5:24; Isaiah 8:11; Isaiah 49:5; Isaiah 58:5). For all this they could not escape the judgment of God. This is announced to them in Isaiah 10:3, in the form of three distinct questions (commencing with ūmâh, quid igitur). The noun pekuddah in the first question always signifies simply a visitation of punishment; sho'âh is a confused, dull, desolate rumbling, hence confusion (turba), desolation: here it is described as "coming from afar," because a distant nation (Asshur) was the instrument of God's wrath. Second question: "Upon whom will ye throw yourselves in your search for help then" (nūs ‛al, a constr. praegnans, only met with here)? Third question: "Where, i.e., in whose hand, will ye deposit your wealth in money and possessions" (câbōd, what is weighty in value and imposing in appearance); ‛âzab with b'yad (Genesis 39:6), or with Lamed (Job 39:14), to leave anything with a person as property in trust. No one would relieve them of their wealth, and hold it as a deposit; it was irrecoverably lost. To this negative answer there is appended the following bilti, which, when used as a preposition after a previous negation, signifies praeter; when used as a conjunction, nisi (bilti 'im, Judges 7:14); and where it governs the whole sentence, as in this case, nisi quod (cf., Numbers 11:6; Daniel 11:18). In the present instance, where the previous negation is to be supplied in thought, it has the force of nil reliquum est nisi quod (there is nothing left but). The singular verb (câra‛) is used contemptuously, embracing all the high persons as one condensed mass; and tachath does not mean aeque ac or loco (like, or in the place of), as Ewald (217, k) maintains, but is used in the primary and local sense of infra (below). Some crouch down to find room at the feet of the prisoners, who are crowded closely together in the prison; or if we suppose the prophet to have a scene of transportation in his mind, they sink down under the feet of the other prisoners, in their inability to bear such hardships, whilst the rest fall in war; and as the slaughter is of long duration, not only become corpses themselves, but are covered with corpses of the slain (cf., Isaiah 14:19). And even with this the wrath of God is not satisfied. The prophet, however, does not follow out the terrible gradation any further. Moreover, the captivity, to which this fourth strophe points, actually formed the conclusion of a distinct period.

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